A demonstrator holds a “Defend DACA” sign while protesting the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program outside Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Supreme Court Hints It Won't Hear Trump's DACA Appeal This Term

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court took no action Friday on President Donald Trump’s bid to end deportation protections for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants, suggesting the program may stay in place at least until the end of this year.

Under the court’s usual practices, Friday was the last day to accept an appeal and schedule the case for the last week of arguments in late April. The court’s current term runs through June, and the next one starts in October.

The administration is challenging rulings that are blocking Trump from rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. Lower court judges have said the administration’s explanation -- that DACA is illegal -- isn’t adequate.

A decision not to hear the case this term would be a blow to the administration, which had contended the case was especially urgent. The government took the unusual step of turning to the Supreme Court even before a federal appeals court had ruled. The administration said it wanted a "timely and definitive resolution of the dispute this term."

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later ruled against the administration, saying it acted based on a faulty view of the law. The panel left open the possibility the administration could end the policy for other reasons.

Shutdown Debate

DACA, begun under President Barack Obama, protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Dreamers, as the applicants are known, are shielded from deportation and allowed to apply for work permits.

DACA briefly became part of the debate over how to end the partial federal government shutdown. Some lawmakers floated the possibility of a compromise that would protect DACA while providing money for a border wall. Vice President Mike Pence rejected the idea, and Trump said he wants the Supreme Court to rule before he considers such a deal.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to issue a list of orders Tuesday. The court could reject the administration’s appeals or agree to hear arguments in the term that starts in October.

The Supreme Court also took no action Friday on a list of other major cases, suggesting the justices will take a low profile in Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s first term. Those cases include a Trump administration bid to ban most transgender people from serving in the military and appeals testing whether federal law bars job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The court Friday also scrapped plans for a Feb. 19 argument involving the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The court, however, could reschedule the showdown for later this term to consider a trial judge’s ruling this week barring the Commerce Department from adding the question. The Feb. 19 argument had been designed to tackle a preliminary issue.

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